by Dawn W

The news has been all abuzz lately with news of Mike Sam.  Sam, in case you haven’t heard, has just recently come out as a gay man. He’s also entering this year’s NFL draft. That means if Sam is drafted, he will be the first openly gay player in the league. This is huge. As Saeed Jones pointed out in a piece for Buzzfeed; the NFL is the last great bastion of warrior culture. 

True to Jones’ analysis, players and sportscasters have all been commenting the same way. There’s serious concern about what could happen in the locker room. “I’m going to be really uncomfortable getting naked in front of a gay man” seems to be the prevalent argument. For me, this begs the question…why? Why are you uncomfortable? Are you afraid that he won’t take your no for an answer? That he will look at you as a sexual conquest and nothing more? 

Welcome to the world of women. 

Women learn from an early age how to read a situation; how to read a man. I don’t mean how to know if he’s interested or when he’s flirting. More like when he’s transitioned from friend to enemy, when something in his demeanor shifts and your body hums in fight or flight readiness. I’ve experienced it more times than I care to remember. Are all men like this? Absolutely not. But as a woman who is often alone in parking garages and dark places or who has had charm mistaken for romantic interest, I know what it means to be on edge and uncomfortable. 

Please do not come at me with “ALL MEN AREN’T LIKE THIS DIRTY FEMINIST.” l know they aren’t and I am thankful. I also know that men and boys are being raised in a culture where we are still blaming the victims of rape and assault; where anyone that puts you in the friend zone is a bitch, cocktease, or lesbian. Until we break this cycle, until we fix our culture, women (and men) will look over their shoulders and clutch mobile phones tightly; ready to call for help and run if necessary. 

You are afraid of this man because you know how you look at and think of women. You don’t want to be looked at the way you look at us. 

“I’m not saying he’s a predator…” argued one player. 

No darling, but you’re saying you very well might be.